Sunday, December 06, 2015

Review: Home for the Holidays by Joe Cosentino


Title: Home for the Holidays

Author: Joe Cosentino

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Release: 2nd December 2015

Genre: M/M (Christmas)


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Bobby McGrath’s Christmas trip to the beautiful Italian island of Capri to meet his eccentric extended family offers stunning views—none more stunning than his third cousin, Paolo Mascobello, a real stocking stuffer. As the two young men embark on a relationship, Bobby, a driven law student, learns to relax and bask under the old Italian moon, and Paolo realizes there’s more to life than a frolic on the beach. For the two to find everlasting amore, Paulo must overcome his fear of commitment and learn to follow his dreams, and Bobby must get his wish for happily ever after.

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Mark’s Review

Christmas Italian style means lots of animated discussions, loads of great Mediterranean food, a beautiful island and the weather to go with it. Bobby experiences all of this and more when he goes to spend Christmas with his distant relatives in Capri. The one thing he didn’t bargain for was Paolo.

It never ceases to amaze me about how extended Italian families seem to be or more importantly how they ever manage to keep tabs on who is related to whom. Bobby goes to Capri to spend his time with his extended family, his grandmother being a second cousin three times removed from Paolo’s grandfather or something like that. Don’t ask me as to be honest I can’t now remember but it was heart warming to see no matter how distant the relation Bobby was accepted into the family as warmly as if it was his own direct family.

I liked the typical animated conversations around the family dining table, I could just imagine the whole noisy scenario. Typical Italian? I guess but I’m not an expert on this culture by a long shot. But it came across pretty authentic to me. Paolo is given the task to show Bobby around Capri while he is there. A job that he takes on with some reluctance but in this family the hierarchy is clear so once you have been tasked to do something there’s no getting out of it. At first I got the feeling that Paolo kind of resented Bobby being there but gradually something builds between them. Bobby finds Paolo irresistible and when they both find out they’re gay then Bobby starts to fall for Paolo all the more. My first reaction was a little cringe worthy however to think that they are related and now falling in love with each other. But then I had to remember that they are so distant as relatives it really doesn’t matter anymore.

Bobby’s advances are always shunned by Paolo. Why? Well, we learn that Paolo until now has been a bit of a player, one night stands and nothing more. He is afraid of getting involved as he doesn’t want to get hurt and he feels that he might be feeling more than he should for Bobby. I guess like all good sons he has a dream but it always has to take second place against the expectations of the his family and the company. Here I felt sorry for Paolo that someone can be so oppressed into giving up a dream for the sake of having to fulfil one’s duty and what the family wants. Quite selfish from the family if you ask me even if it isn’t intended that way. Bobby eventually gets through to Paolo with the help of his father on the other side of the pond making him realise that life has a lot more to offer than doing the family’s bidding.

The whole story idea in itself was a nice one however upon reflection there were just a few things that stopped it being more than three stars for me. I would have liked a little more substance or plot to the story. Paolo and Bobby are flying around the island on Paolo’s Vespa showing him the island but there isn’t a lot more to the plot really than this. I’m afraid I just didn’t feel the heat or attraction between the MCs like I should have. There was just something a little flat with the character dynamics between the pair of them which didn’t make them lift off the page for me and

I also felt there is constant repetition of a couple of things. First the dialogues between Paolo and Bobby; Paolo ended almost every sentence with the word “cousin” when addressing Bobby. Maybe it’s a cultural thing and I’m not really qualified to comment, but I felt it started to interrupt the flow of their dialogues for me personally to the extent that it didn’t sound natural anymore. This was a shame as at a certain point it was difficult for me to take Paolo seriously anymore and therefore the dialogues lost some of their sparkle. It wasn’t necessary for me to be reminded all the time that they are cousins.

The same I’m afraid went for the food. There is a lot of eating going on in this book, natural enough maybe for an Italian family, but I felt every time they sat down to eat we always get a complete culinary rundown of what’s on the table albeit either at home or in one of the many restaurants Paolo took Bobby to. This again distracted me a little from the real point or focus of why they are there and that is the conversation. These two things were a little overdone for my tastes I’m afraid.

However after all is said and done this is a charming, compact Christmas novella with an Italian flare. It’s about learning to love and trust, even if there is the risk of getting hurt, about following your dreams, even if this risks upsetting some people and about the importance of families.

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Meet Joe Consentino

Amazon Bestselling author Joe Cosentino wrote An Infatuation, A Shooting Star, A Home for the Holidays (Dreamspinner Press), Drama Queen the first Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press), Paper Doll the first Jana Lane mystery (Whiskey Creek Press), and The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (Eldridge Plays and Musicals). He has appeared in principal acting roles in film, television, and theatre, opposite stars such as Bruce Willis, Rosie O’Donnell, Nathan Lane, Holland Taylor, Charles Keating, and Jason Robards. His one-act plays, Infatuation and Neighbor, were performed in New York City. He wrote The Perils of Pauline educational film (Prentice Hall Publishers). Joe is currently Head of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and is happily married. His upcoming releases in 2016 are The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland (Dreamspinner Press), Porcelain Doll & Satin Doll & China Doll Jana Lane mysteries (Wild Rose Press), Drama Muscle & Drama Cruise Nicky and Noah mysteries (Lethe Press), and Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back & Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward (Nine Star Press).

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